Tag Archives: History & Reconciliation

Australia Feature | Mixed-race Aboriginal

Australia’s “Stolen Generation” Speaks

For six decades across the 20th century, the Australian government pursued a ruthless policy of the forced assimilation of its indigenous population, tearing mixed-race children from their communities and creating “stolen generations” deprived of access to the culture of their aboriginal roots. The policy, similar to those pursued in Canada and the U.S., forced children into boarding schools, church missions, and adoptions to erase connections to their communities. Canadian photographer Matthew Sherwood has documented the stories of those in the Northern Territory through his photo series Generations Stolen, profiled in The New York Times.


Australia’s ‘Stolen Generations’ Tell Their Stories” (The New York Times | May 2017)

Indonesia & the Netherlands News | Indonesians

Dutch government announces inquiry into violent twilight of colonialism in Indonesia
  • Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced an investigation into the violent conflict between the Dutch military and Indonesians that took place from 1945 to 1949.
  • The Dutch government has begun to admit to a host of war crimes during the colonial war including mass killings, torture, and summary executions, with the conflict having brought about the death of at least 100,000 Indonesians.
  • Indonesia was a Dutch colony from 1800 to 1949 and is widely recognized as having contributed significantly to the contemporary wealth of the western European nation.

Read more:
Dutch cabinet agrees to fund research into violence in Indonesia” (DutchNews)
Dutch government backs new inquiry into colonial Indonesia” (Reuters)

Additional reads:
Indonesian National Revolution Photos the Dutch Army Didn’t Want You to See” (The Creators Project, January 2016)
Colonial atrocities explode myth of Dutch tolerance” (The Independent, May 1994)

(Image Credit: NIOD, via The Creators Project)

Germany News | Turkish-German Politicians

Turkish-German lawmakers receive death threats following Armenian Genocide resolution
  • Germany’s 11 MPs of Turkish descent received the threats following the passage of a resolution to recognize the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in Turkey as genocide.
  • Targets included Cem Oezdemir, the leader of Germany’s Greens Party who had pushed for the resolution.
  • Officials have been advised against travel to Turkey after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan publicly accused them of betraying their Turkish heritage.

Read more:
After threats, security concerns for German MPs with Turkish roots” (Reuters)
Report: German MPs advised not to visit Turkey” (Deutsche Welle)
German-Turkish war of words intensifies after ‘genocide’ vote” (euronews)

(Image Credit: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)

Israel Feature | Ethiopian Jews

Ethiopian Jews, from Operation Solomon to the Present

Video Credit: AJ+

On May 24, 1991, Israel launched an aerial operation that lifted more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews (also known as Beta Israel) out of war-ravaged Ethiopia to begin a new life in Israel. Although similar operations (Moses and Joshua) had been carried out before, Operation Solomon, a coordination of Israeli, American, and Ethiopian efforts, was distinctive in its scale. It set the record for the largest number of passengers on a single flight as 1,087 registered Ethiopians boarded a single El Al plane, fleeing the country before an anticipated coup.

Twenty-five years later, the number of Israelis of Ethiopian descent has grown to more than 100,000, including a growing Israel-native generation. Last summer, the community was thrust into the international spotlight after anti-racism protests erupted following police officers’ assault on an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent. Discrimination, poverty, and relatively low educational attainment rates have continued to plague many Ethiopian Jews in Israel, but ongoing advocacy is pushing for increased public recognition of the vulnerabilities the community faces and steps to redress inequality.

On This Day in 1991, IDF Makes a Miracle With ‘Operation Solomon’” (The Jewish Press)
Operation Solomon: Airlifting 14,000 Jews out of Ethiopia” (BBC)
Tracking down the Ethiopian Jews who moved to Israel” (Haaretz)
Ethiopian Jews In Israel: 25 Years Later, A Mixed Report” (The Jewish Week)

Operation Solomon to rescue 14,325 Ethiopian Jews (The Jewish Agency for Israel)
Saving the Forgotten Jews (BBC)

The Ethiopian National Project
Friends of Ethiopian Jews
The Israel Association of Ethiopian Jews

(Image Credit: Doron Bacher, via Haaretz)

Citations: Black in North Africa

Black in North Africa

Like the color it purports to name, the social label black absorbs, integrates, and obscures distinct but interrelated phenomena: a skin tone of context-dependent shade, a racial classification from bygone times, an ethnic designation, a class marker, an immigration status, an ancestry, a cultural heritage, and an index of historical wrongs still fresh in memory. Black has often served as shorthand for of African descent, but perhaps nowhere most complicates that substitution than a region on the continent itself: North Africa. Continue reading Citations: Black in North Africa

Interregional Feature | Holocaust Survivors

Finding Healthcare Justice for Aging Holocaust Survivors

With the youngest among them now in their 70s, Holocaust survivors are facing late-in-life issues compounded by the traumas from the policies of targeted persecution just over seven decades ago. Dementia has returned some to the nightmares of their youth, while social isolation, physical ailments, and other mental health issues stemming from the violence of the period have left many with high care needs as they age.

In the U.S., home to more than 100,000 survivors (most Jewish), politicians have begun calling on the German government to do more for victims, arguing that current caps on assistance leave many survivors struggling. While reparations have expanded since the 1951 establishment of the Claims Conference, questions over who shoulders the burden for late-in-life care have yet to be resolved. The increasing needs that come with aging have reignited debates about Germany’s obligations to those its government systematically disenfranchised, impoverished, and subjected to physical and mental anguish that outlived the liberation of the final concentration camp.

As Holocaust Becomes More Distant, Survivors’ Needs Intensify“(The New York Times)
Federal grants to assist Holocaust survivors draw praise, concern” (The Sun-Sentinel)
Harrowing story of the Holocaust survivors still fighting for a dignified life 75 years on” (The Daily Mirror)
Romanian Holocaust survivors aging without benefits” (Ynetnews, July 2015)
Holocaust survivors deported from France can now apply for reparations” (The Washington Post, November 2015)
Germany to Pay 772 Million Euros to Survivors” (Der Spiegel, May 2013)

(Image Credit: Kacper Pempel/Reuters, via The New York Times)

Zimbabwe News | Black & White

Zimbabwe looks to black farmers to provide reparations to displaced white farmers
  • As the Zimbabwean government struggles to keep its economy afloat, it has toyed with shifting the burden of reparation to black farmers, who lease land from the government, through a compensation fund created through their rent payments.
  • White farmers were displaced as a part of a contentious indigenization program that saw massive land redistribution beginning in 2000, promoted as a corrective to the expropriation of land from black families under colonialism.
  • More than 6,000 farms remain for reparation assessment, with only 240 white farmers having begun to receive payment.

Read more:
We can’t pay: Zimbabwe farmers resist compensating evicted white landowners” (Reuters)
Zimbabwe May Ask Black Farmers to Help Repay Ousted Whites” (Bloomberg)
Zimbabwe begins talks to compensate evicted white farmers” (AfricaNews)

(Image Credit: via AfricaNews)

Zimbabwe News | Black, White & Foreigners

Deadline for Zimbabwe’s controversial corporate indigenization plan passes
  • President Robert Mugabe has pushed a contentious plan to have all companies operating in Zimbabwe—including major multinational corporations—comply with a 2008 law to transfer majority shares to black Zimbabweans to “indigenize” their local firms.
  • The plan was conceived as a corrective to colonial-era economic exclusion and is a follow-up to the ongoing land reform program that has transferred farm ownership from white to black Zimbabweans.
  • It is unclear how many companies, faced with the revocation of their operating licenses, have complied to date, and many concerned that the program discourages foreign direct investment.

Read more:
Zimbabwe deadline for firms to be black-owned passes” (BBC)
Zimbabwe says foreign banks, miners fail to comply on selling stakes to locals” (Reuters)
Zimbabwe: Diamond firms comply with indigenization law” (Deutsche Welle)

Rwanda News | Tutsi

Rwandan pastor convicted of involvement in 1994 genocide
  • Jean Uwinkindi, a former Pentecostal pastor, was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of contributing to the slaughter that left 800,000 minority ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead in 1994.
  • The court found that Uwinkindi, arrested in 2010, was responsible for coordinating and leading attacks against Tutsis at Rwankeri and Kanzene hills
  • Uwinkindi had been a pastor at the time of the genocide and reportedly executed Tutsi women and children who sought refuge in his church.

Read more:
Rwandan pastor jailed for life for genocide-era crimes” (Reuters)
Rwanda : Génocide, un ancien pasteur condamné à la prison à vie” (Koaci, in French)
Rwanda genocide: Jean Uwinkindi sentenced to life in prison” (BBC)

(Image Credit: Getty Images, via BBC)

South Korea News | Women

Protesters demonstrate against Japan’s accord with South Korea over Korean “comfort women”
  • Hundreds protested in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul following the release of the terms of the agreement between the two countries over the long-divisive issue of the Korean women forced to work in Japanese military brothels in WWII.
  • The terms included a 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) fund for survivors and the reiteration of an official national apology.
  • Protesters argued that none of the 46 public survivors had not been consulted when the terms were set and that the agreement still allowed Japan to evade responsibility in educational and diplomatic channels.

Read more:
South Korea ‘comfort women’ reject deal with Japan” (Deutsche Welle)
South Korean ‘comfort women’ protest against accord with Japan” (Reuters)
Group says as victims were not consulted, ‘comfort women’ deal not final” (The Japan Times)

(Image Credit: K. Hong-Ji/Reuters, via Deutsche Welle)


Bosnia and Herzegovina & Serbia News | Bosnian Muslims & Serbs

New Bosnian War indictments continue search for justice decades after historic ethnic conflict in the Balkans
  • After having been arrested on warrant from Serbia, Bosnian Muslim former commander Naser Oric pleaded not guilty to the murder of three Serb prisoners in 1992.
  • Meanwhile, Djordje Ristanic, a Bosnian Serb official from the war, was indicted for war crimes including the murder, torture, and robbery of hundreds of Bosnian Muslims and Croats.
  • Ongoing legal efforts at both the international and national level to prosecute war crimes from the Bosnian War–including genocide, ethnic cleansing, and persecution–have led to recent arrest and convictions of both Bosnian Serbs and Muslims (Bosniaks).

Read more:
Bosnian Muslim ex-commander denies killings of Serbs near Srebrenica” (Reuters)
Serb charged over wartime crimes against hundreds in Bosnian town” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: Zoran Lesic/Reuters/Pool)

U.S. News | Native Americans

Indigenous Peoples Day begins catching on in U.S. cities as replacement for Columbus Day
  • Cities in a potpourri of states including Washington, California, Texas, Minnesota, and New Mexico eschewed celebrating Christopher Columbus to focus instead on the contributions and achievements of indigenous Americans.
  • The movement to change the national holiday saw its first significant victory in 1990, when South Dakota renamed the holiday to Native American Day.
  • Columbus’s status as a national hero has been increasingly dismantled as historians have brought to light his writings, persecution of indigenous Americans, and initiation of a series of events that led to the deaths of millions of native inhabitants of the American continents.

Read more:
Indigenous Peoples Day Celebrated in Cities Across the U.S. Instead of Columbus Day” (BuzzFeed News)
Indigenous Peoples Day celebrated in Lawrence” (The Kansas City Star)
Denver City Council unanimously decides to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day” (KDVR FOX 31 News)

(Image Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP, via BuzzFeed News)

Lithuania Feature | Muslims

Lithuania’s Muslims

Lithuania’s Muslim Tatar community has inhabited Lithuania for more than six centuries, nearly as long as it has existed as a unified nation. That has not prevented contemporary politicians from joining the other Baltic nations in debating legislation perceived as anti-Islam or ignoring the long history of Muslims in the country while disparaging Muslim refugees. The Economist takes a brief look at this history and the contemporary debates about national identity driving immigration and humanitarian action.

Read more:
The Mosques of Lithuania” (The Economist)

(Image Credit: Martynas Zaremba/The Economist)

China & Japan Feature | Japanese-Chinese

Identity Legacies of War

Japanese children were adopted in occupied China during World War II as they lost mothers and fathers to the war. AFP highlights some of the cultural struggles that are the legacies of those adoptions.

Watch the AFP feature on YouTube.

Western Asia Feature | Middle-Eastern Christians

The Twilight of Christianity in the Region of Its Birth

The Middle East has seen its culturally diverse population fractured by ever-increasing fault lines over the last century, from colonialism and nationalism to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Sunni-Shia sectarianism to fundamentalist Sunni extremism.  As a dwindling religious minority, Christians in the Middle East have seen the threat to their existence multiply exponentially after nearly two millennia of peaceful coexistence with other religious communities in their homeland.  The New York Times Magazine explores Christianity’s decline and contemporary existential threats in a region where extremism has subjected the community to exile, forced conversion, and execution.

Read the full feature at the New York Times Magazine.

(Image Credit: Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times)